Orange’s 2013 RetroSSBBRank

Disclaimer: This work was entirely done by Orange, with no input from myself. I, Pikachu942, have no affiliation with the content of the article outside of posting it on my side and some minor editing. If you have any questions on the content, please contact Orange, who you can find most easily on Reddit at Orange_SSBU.

It took the world ending for me to stop procrastinating and actually post something, huh? If everything goes as planned, you should be reading this on Pikachu492’s website. She’s been a great help to me ever since the very beginning of this account back in February of 2019. When I went to post the RetroSSBB Rank on Reddit, it failed because I passed the character limit… by 10,000 characters. I just love to write, ok? The first person I thought of was Pika since she posts semiregularly on this website, and well, the rest is history. Depending on how much I write on the 2014 SSBB Rank, it might be on here too, but it depends, and it’ll be posted on my Reddit account anyways so you won’t miss it.

Without further ado…’

Continue reading “Orange’s 2013 RetroSSBBRank”

All-Time Melee Top 100: Another Year

I won’t bore anybody here with any extra things you don’t want to hear about, since I know why anybody would want to read this article. With the world being crazy right now, it’s almost poetic how it was matched by an equally crazy past year of Melee. The first time I did this, it was moreso a reestablishment of the ranking put out a year prior, and nice and easy to write about. This one, though, was insane, with so many twists and turns I’ll never forget, which made this article extremely difficult to write.

Without further ado, here we go!

Continue reading “All-Time Melee Top 100: Another Year”

Friday Surprise: Snexus 2

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In the oldest days of Melee, scenes were incredibly separated, with players from the East Coast and West Coast practically never meeting, let alone countries outside the United States. In the first few years, it was common to see players dominate their regions, but never travel to truly prove themselves as the best in the nation, or the world. This was understandable, given the lack of incentive to do so in Melee’s formative years, but still people were dying to know what scene was truly the best. That is when Snex, an old school Midwest TO, got a wonderful idea. He would host a large scale tournament for the time, Snexus 2, and fly out some of the very best from California to partake in the bracket. This is the story of one of the very first inter-regional meetings in Melee’s history, and arguably the first large tournament the game had ever seen.

While it may seem pitiful by today’s standards, Snexus 2 was able to garner 48 entrants, an astounding amount for the time. In fact, at the time it could’ve quite possibly been the largest tournament to ever take place, though there is scarce data from then to truly confirm this. Taking place on July 12th, 2003, over 16 years ago today, all the best in the Midwest gathered to face the West Coast elite. The very best of course were the ones known as Team Blood, made up of the Chicago duo of Eduardo and Eddie. While Eddie is more well-known in today’s era for his further success with Ganondorf, Eduardo was a force to be reckoned with, winning nearly every tourney at the time with his trusty Marth. In addition, the Kish Brothers of Indiana showed up, KishPrime, KishSquared and KishCubed, as well as the others in the Ship of Fools crew with Joshu and Ignatius, sometimes known as Iggy. Da’Shiekie, another of Illinois’ best with the Blood Brothers, also appeared, as well as up and coming Puff Andy, later to be known as Show Me Your Moves TO AOB. The best in Ohio also appeared, with Smog and Fusegen, and some older-school players, even for the time, like SmashBroPro and DJXXX also made the trip out. The very best from Canada also attended, with MikeMonkey and Jarrod from the Punch Crew, and finally, were the NorCal collective. Recipherus and Isai were the easy favorites to win this tournament, being the two best in the region at the time, while former European #1 turned top Cali star The Doug was another top contender. The original Dave himself, Scamp, also showed up, and rounded out the top participants for the tournament. This was going to be a hotly contested affair, and we won’t know who’ll take it until we begin.

The tournament started with doubles, and while I wouldn’t normally talk too much about these results, I feel it is important to highlight the first big upset of the day. Recipherus and Isai, the dominant favorites heading in, especially with Isai’s still blossoming but known doubles prowess, were actually taken down by the legendary Team Blood. Eddie and Eduardo defended the Midwest in doubles, which perhaps was a good sign heading into the main event: the singles bracket.

The first round begins, with only a single notable matchup to go over before Winner’s Round 2:

Da’Shiekie vs. Smog

In the first regional battle of the day, Illinois and Ohio faced off in a heated contest. Sheik was commonly heralded as the best character in the game at this point, though with Recipherus’ known struggles against both Sultan of Samitude and Justin Junio, perhaps Falco was the answer. Smog further drove this point home, defeating Da’Shiekie to advance in the bracket.

Joshu vs. Fusegen

Another notable Ohio matchup, this time against Indiana. Fusegen was considered the 2nd best in the region, just behind Smog, while Joshu was more in the 3-5 range for his state. However, Joshu proved just how stacked Indiana was at the time, and easily dispatched of Fusegen to continue.

Scamp vs. KishSquared

The first true test of California vs. the rest, Scamp went up against the often considered 2nd best of the Kishes, KishSquared, and fell just short. Midwest had proven its ability to beat the middling tiers of the West, but could they beat the higher ups?

Recipherus vs. KishCubed

That answer seemed to come shortly after, when Recipherus easily dispatched of the often considered best in Indiana, KishCubed. While it was the highly volatile Sheik ditto, it’s easy to look at this, and begin to feel disheartened about the Midwest’s chances.

Jarrod vs. KishPrime

At the very least, though, the final Kish proved that it’d take more than #2 in Canada to send them packing, as he was able to take out Jarrod of the Punch Crew to make it to Winner’s Round 3.

Fusegen vs. Jarrod (19th)

Yes, 19th place. The bracket was a bit strange in this bracket, as they wound up somehow having uneven sides on each one. This led to them doing 3 way FFA’s in the 4th round, in order to decide who would get the bye, causing a bit of a mixup in the loser’s bracket. While Melee was beginning to form into a national, regulated scene, there were still some strange rules such as this back in 2003. Anyways, Fusegen eliminated Jarrod, removing one of Canada’s best from the tournament.

Scamp vs. Da’Sheikie (19th)

…And yet another out of region player eliminated, as Da’Sheikie successfully eliminated one of California’s fly-outs to progress on. It seems some of the Midwest could indeed hang.

The Doug vs. Joshu

This matchup was probably a fairly exciting one, considering both being considered just under the very best of their respective regions. The Doug was able to prove both Europe and California proud, however, when he vanquished the Midwest Luigi.

Eddie vs. KishSquared

In a battle long-awaited by some, the two often considered 2nd best of their states battled for supremacy, in a match that hadn’t occurred before. Eddie was able to take it this time, but rest assured, Indiana would not go quietly into the night.

MikeMonkey vs. Recipherus

Another best in region battle for Recipherus, and another victory. Recipherus handily defeated MikeMonkey to continue on, proving his superiority over not only Indiana, but the entirety of Canada as well.

Smog vs. KishPrime

Ohio continued to prove itself here, as Smog was able to take down one of the lofted Kishes in singles action. Ohio was often left out of conversations for the best region in the Midwest at the time, it almost always being between Illinois and Indiana, but Smog was making an amazing case for both himself and his region here.

Isai vs. Eduardo

One of the most anticipated matchups of the tournaments, Isai and Eduardo battled fiercely in a match that could make or break the Midwest. While Team Blood had successfully defended themselves in doubles, it looked like singles would be a different story, as Isai was able to somehow take out the Midwest’s absolute best, and advance in the bracket.

KishPrime vs. Da’Sheikie (13th)

The best player in Illinois that didn’t start with Ed, Da’Sheikie continued his trek to try and make Top 8 at this prestigious event. However, KishPrime was able to stop him in his tracks, forwarding Indiana’s claim for the best state of the bunch.

MikeMonkey vs. Fusegen (13th)

Fusegen, after just slaying Jarrod the round previous, was probably feeling pretty good about his changes to finish off Canada and prove Ohio’s greatness, especially after seeing Smog’s run through winner’s. However, MikeMonkey snuffed those hopes out, gaining vengeance on Fusegen for his brethren and advancing forwards.

Anyways, as I said, Winner’s Round 4 was initially decided with FFA’s to determine who would get the initial bye to round 5. The first of which was between The Doug, Iggy and Eddie, which Eddie was able to come out on top of. The second was between Recipherus, Isai and Smog, in which Recipherus was able to win. This led to Winner’s Round 4 being:

The Doug vs. Iggy

The Doug continued his warpath through the Ship of Fools crew, as he struck down yet another member with Iggy. Put whatever Indiana player you want in The Doug’s way, he would take them all down. California seemed to really putting a number on the Midwest this tournament.

Isai vs. Smog

Finally, Smog’s miracle run through winner’s was thwarted, as Isai was able to soundly send him to the loser’s bracket. While he may have been taken down, perhaps Smog’s miracle energy had transitioned to Isai, considering his next match…

Eddie vs. The Doug

In what may have been a shocking result for the time, the soon to be legendary Ganon main Eddie was able to send The Doug to the loser’s bracket, and advance to Winner’s Finals. This would mark the first time Eddie would truly begin to outshine his partner Eduardo, and start to cement himself as one of the game’s very best.

Recipherus vs. Isai

And in what was definitely a shocking upset, Isai scored his first truly top level win in singles, defeating Recipherus to make it to Winner’s Finals as well! Isai had often not tried incredibly hard at the previous Tournament Go entries, notably only reaching 7th at the last one, TG4. However, since Ken’s debut there, he has been practicing extensively with the King of Smash, and really learning to expand his game beyond just his 64 expertise. Isai started his establishment as one of the greatest players to ever touch a Gamecube controller right here, and it would only go up.

Eduardo vs. KishCubed (9th)

KishCubed honestly had a rough bracket, having to face both Recipherus and Eduardo, quite possibly the two best at the tournament, so early on. Sadly, that’s what he had to face, as #1 in Indiana fell to the best in NorCal and the best in Illinois for a paltry 9th place finish.

Iggy vs. KishPrime (9th)

Fear not, though, as the Kishes had more to say in this tournament. While KishCubed got knocked out unfortunately early, KishPrime continued his run into Top 8, eliminating Iggy in an Indiana teamkill. Considering their recent tournament performances, this very well could’ve been considered an upset.

MikeMonkey vs. Joshu (9th)

Canada sadly was unable to make Top 8, as Indiana gained yet another spot in the lofty bracket. Joshu was able to take down MikeMonkey, proving Luigi’s potential as a viable character at the top level.

Recipherus vs. KishSquared (9th)

Recipherus, despite his earlier upset loss to Isai, was not about to let himself fall short once again. Early in the year, Recipherus had failed to conquer Texas at MOAST, losing in an intense Grand Finals to the best in the region, Zulu. He was not about to let this happen again, as he took down KishSquared to advance into Top 8.

The Doug vs. Eduardo (7th)

Another interesting matchup, caused by the famously weird bracket structure of 2003 Melee, and we see the best in the Midwest against the best from Europe. In a heated affair, Eduardo proved that Team Blood was not one to be messed with, as he finished what Eddie started, and ended The Doug’s tournament run at a perhaps disappointing 7th place.

Smog vs. Joshu (7th)

In a perhaps lower level but still equally exciting match, Smog continued his amazing run through the tournament, taking out another of the region’s best in Joshu. Smog had firmly but Ohio on the map, being its first truly top level talent.

Eduardo vs. KishPrime (5th)

Eduardo once again proved himself to be no laughing matter, with another take down of Indiana’s best, this time with video! This tournament proved that while Indiana may have more depth than Illinois, at the top level there was no contest. Illinois had taken half of the Top 4 spots in the tournament, while Indiana had taken none of them. The battle for best state in the region was over, and Illinois had won decisively.

Recipherus vs. Smog (5th)

However, the true battle was still underway, as the Midwest fought to protect itself from the California invaders. Smog was unable to do so, falling convincingly to Recipherus. However, he had proven himself, and broken through as one of the best in any state with his amazing run today.

Isai vs. Eddie

In what was more than likely a very surprising Winner’s Finals, Isai and Eddie faced off as the two often considered silver medallists of their regions. Isai pulled out the Fox for this set, as opposed to his Falcon or Sheik, while Eddie stuck to his trademark Ganon. It was decently close, but seemed to be fairly in Isai’s favor as he wound up taking the set, having defeated Eddie, Eduardo and Recipherus to make Grand Finals. Perhaps Isai truly was the best in the nation, or maybe 2nd to Ken.

Recipherus vs. Eduardo (4th)

While it was in a place not many expected, this was the matchup everybody was waiting for. The best in NorCal, facing off against the best in the Midwest. Both had experience with this matchup, with Recipherus having played Ken, and Eduardo having played Da’Shiekie. The match seemed close at first, but in the end, Recipherus pulled ahead, notching an impressive victory over the hometown’s champion. Recipherus would carry this momentum.

To spare you all more needless descriptions, Recipherus found his groove after the hardfought win over Eduardo, easily dispatching of Eddie, before taking out Isai twice from loser’s in two rather convincing sets to take the tournament. Recipherus had accomplished his goal, avenging his loss at MOAST and proving he was indeed one of the best in the nation, while Isai proved his was a force to be reckoned, taking sets off all the contenders. While Eddie and Eduardo did fall in singles, they did defeat the invaders in doubles, and proved at the top level, they were the best state in the Midwest. Smog established himself as a harrowing player to face off with, and Indiana showcased their depth of talent, hosting nearly half of the Top 12. Almost everybody had something to be proud of with this event, though none more than the organizer, Snex.

Snex himself actually had a fairly impressive run, only losing to Isai and KishSquared for 13th, though that isn’t exactly what I mean. Snex proved that you could run a successful, large scale tournament, housing multiple top players from multiple regions. This was something that would only expand from here, with the likes of Tournament Go 5 and Game Over on the West and East Coasts being Melee’s first true majors. However, it all started here, in a small venue in Chicago, over 16 years ago. The West Coast proving themselves as the best region in the nation, at least to themselves, was often a topic on SmashBoards after this. The East Coast didn’t take too kindly to this, nor did any region for that matter, and they decided it was time to meet them on their home turf. This tournament in some ways did lead to the growth of Melee, and is an important old-school tournament, never to be forgotten.

Final Placings

1.Recipherus

2.Isai

3.Eddie

4.Eduardo

5.KishPrime/Smog

7.The Doug/Joshu

9.KishCubed/Iggy/MikeMonkey/KishSquared

An Underrated Innovator: The Career of FASTLIKETREE

Hey all, back with another article! Remember, if you want to support these THREE ARTICLES A WEEK, and maybe more down the line, come over and support me on Patreon! I’d really appreciate it.


 

In Melee’s history, the development of the characters and technical skills used are fairly well-documented, from videos like Shined Blind showing where Fox could go back in 2004, to videos like Perfect Dark showing where they have yet to in 2011. Many other examples exist, such as character threads on SmashBoards, or specific sets one could point to as a turning point in the game, like Leffen and Armada at Paragon Orlando. However, out of all of these names, I feel there is one vastly overlooked. One who had developed the meta in multiple ways way back during the game’s Golden Age, and in ways still felt to this day. That man, if you couldn’t guess by the title, is the Fox and Marth player known as FASTLIKETREE.

FASTLIKETREE started out his journey in 2004, getting 5th at his very first tournament. Early on, he showed signs of true skill, despite his lack of technical ability during his formative year. And when I say year, I mean year, as within those 12 months he quickly rose to be the best player in Texas locally in 2005. While he didn’t travel like his contemporaries, he began to consistently defeat well-known players from the time such as Rob$ and Caveman at locals, two players well within the Top 20 in the world. During that time, his technical skill also rose to extremely high levels, being quite possibly the only player in the world at the time to be able to consistently perform Fox’s waveshine infinite across the stage. His Marth was also fantastic, innovating in many ways, particularly with his pivot play, which no Marth had ever even considered beforehand. He was also known for “Tree-grabbing”, a technique that allowed Marths to grab players while running from behind them, much like the more well-known “Johnny grab” with Falcon. Before long, it was time for his very first major.

MLG Dallas 2006 was the first major tournament to happen near FASTLIKETREE, and so he was finally able to go to it. Immediately, he established himself as a threat, defeating Isai’s Sheik in the very first round of the tournament, in what was probably one of the biggest upsets of the year’s circuit. He went on to beat fellow Texas player Rob$, as well as Wife before making Winner’s Semis at the event, eventually earning 5th place. This was a huge statement, but sadly not one he would replicate on a national scale. He would still pick up some wins on the big stage, notably Taj at MLG Anaheim in his first performance out of Texas, and Chillin at MELEE-FC6. By year’s end he would be ranked #21 in the world by the Smash Panel Power Rankings, and #19 in the world by RetroSSBMRank.

However, by 2007, FASTLIKETREE would fade from the Melee scene, eventually leaving it all together. His last gift to us was teaching a certain fellow Marth main some important tactics on pivoting, something he would improve upon in years to come. That player would be Arc, the one often credited for utilizing and inventing many of the techniques people use today, most notably the pivot tippers against Jigglypuff that famously gave PewPewU his win over Hungrybox at APEX 2015, as well as Zain for his major win at Shine 2018.

FASTLIKETREE’s legacy is an often overlooked one, and while it was brief, it was extremely important nonetheless. Without him, many things we’ve seen with both Fox and Marth may not have been developed as far as they have been and be set back many years. The careers of great players like Arc, KJH, PewPewU or Zain may not have taken off as strongly without the years of knowledge and detail that birthed from this relatively unknown player from Texas. His mark on the game is an irrefutable one, and something everybody should know about. Float like a butterfly, and be fast like a tree.


I know this article was a much shorter one, but it was just a story I wanted to get out there about a player I particularly love, despite his fairly short career. I hope you all enjoyed it nonetheless!

Melee’s Greatest Moments: Mew2King 6-0’s Leffen

Hey all, back again for another week! Remember, if you want to support me and my work of three articles every single week, come over to my Patreon and pledge your heart out!


 

Mew2King is one of the longest tenured smashers in our game’s history, not just in Melee, but in all games. He has proved to perform at the very top level in Melee, Brawl and Smash 4, becoming the best in the world at the former two on multiple occasions. However, despite all his success, it seemed as if his career was finally coming to a slow end. As 2014 and 2015 rolled on, Mew2King struggled in Smash 4, suffering a character crisis after the nerfs to his previous main, Diddy Kong. While this would be bad enough, the once stable pillar he had in Melee as one of the Five Gods was also beginning to fall, as he found himself slipping further and further down the totem pole. Mew2King had finally begun losing to the up and coming Leffen, who at this point had started to establish himself as quite possibly the best player in the world. This all came to a head in a dominant display at the very first Super Smash Con.

In under 10 minutes, Leffen decimated the once proud slayer of space animals, beating him at his own game badly in one of the only times M2K has lost to a Fox multiple times in a row on Final Destination. The domination continued with another decisive 3-1 victory in Grand Finals, and it seemed Leffen had finally figured Mew2King out. Leffen even made an infamous tweet about the event, claiming that he had trouble not three stocking Mew2King. However, while swung at the king and did not miss, the king wouldn’t stay down for long.

Enter PAX Prime 2015, a tournament once again featuring Leffen and Mew2King. Taking place a mere three weeks after the Smash Con debacle, there was no reason to think anything different would happen here. The fight was over, and Leffen had won, he had figured out the way to finally topple the King of the Mews. There was no going back now, as Leffen would continue his dominance en route to a #1 placing on the year. He had even overcome a longstanding Samus problem, decimating HugS in Winner’s Semis, a player who had defeated him earlier in the year at Press Start. Meanwhile, Mew2King scraped by in a hardfought set against Westballz, before meeting Leffen in Winner’s Finals. What follows, is legendary.

Having cycled through all his characters previously in their last set, Mew2King once again attempted this against Leffen, starting with what many would consider his 3rd best character in Fox. Leffen was well-known at this point for his strength in the Fox ditto, memories of the iconic Paragon set against Armada still ringing throughout the audience. Mew2King, however, wasn’t Armada. He was different, he played different, as his Fox looked calculated and precise, like the robotic Mew2King of old; fitting, considering this was his original main. With a shocking comeback, Mew2King clutched out the final stock and took the first game in stunning fashion. The crowd was in disbelief: could this be it?

No, of course not, Mew2King had no chance here. It was a fluke of the Fox ditto, a famously volatile matchup, and nothing more. Mew2King perhaps thought this as well and, in addition to the closeness of that game, this led to him switching to his more comfortable Sheik, a character he is well-known for today. Another exciting game ensued, as Mew2King once again fought his way back from a deficit, a heartstopping final sequence securing him another comeback and game. D1 and Blur on commentary exuding the exact emotion most of the crowd watching was, both in the venue and those watching on stream. Bewilderment, excitement, and disbelief. The King had…returned?

Game 3, Mew2King remains his patented Sheik, and this game would not need a comeback from him, nor would it be particularly competitive, as Mew2King decimated Leffen with a series of stylish plays reminiscent of him at his prime. A dominant three stock would occur as Leffen merely gave up on his final one, laughing at the result. It seemed unthinkable, but Mew2King had won, he did it! Mew2King was in Grand Finals. However, Leffen was a tough foe, and after a sound beatdown on Westballz in Loser’s Finals, Leffen was ready to take this tourney back for himself, and prove why he was the best in the world.

…Or, I guess not. While Leffen started out hot in Game 1, Mew2King made yet another amazing comeback and early gimp with his Sheik, Leffen once again laughing at the result as Mew2King went up again. Leffen seemed to have almost resigned at this point to many, and Mew2King was only picking up more steam. A switch to Marth came for Game 2, as Mew2King would stay this character for the remainder of the set. From here on out, this was the M2K show, featuring Leffen as the fortunate victim. While both games would indeed be rather close, the consistent, punishing Marth stole all the highlights, with flashy combos and kills galore. Leffen could do nothing but smile and laugh at what he was witnessing throughout the set, perhaps in disbelief, or anger…or fear at what he had awakened?

Nonetheless, with a final forward smash, Mew2King had sealed the 6-0. An iconic moment in the history of M2K’s career, and a huge turning point for it as well. At this time in his life, Mew2King looked as if he was fading from the top echelon of Smash play, that he didn’t have much more to offer. His primary game, Melee, saw him slowly falling, and he just could not find himself in the newest installment. PAX Prime was the jolt of energy he needed, as Mew2King soared to the top once more. The tournament would also be the same for Smash 4, as Mew2King found his new main in Donkey Kong, notably upsetting MVD in another solid set to watch. M2K would continue to say with us on our streams to this day at the highest level of play. What lays beyond 2019 for Mew2King is a mystery, with his continued absence at multiple tournaments throughout the year since GENESIS. One thing’s for certain though: We’re glad you’re still here.

Long live the King.

Friday Surpise: APEX 2016

Hello all! First off, if you would like to support me and what I do, getting THREE ARTICLES A WEEK on Melee-related history and content, I implore you to support my Patreon!

Second off, this is the first in a new series that I could not come up with a good name for, so I’m just going with “Friday Surprise”. In this series, I will randomize a page on either Liquipedia or Smash Wiki, and do an article on whatever shows up (as long as it’s within the topics I would cover). This is the first one, and I hope y’all enjoy it!


 

APEX was once a prestigious tournament series, home to some of the greatest and most storied moments in Smash’s history, across all games. Reaching record attendance numbers and seemingly growing with every year, there appeared to be nothing that could stop it. That is, except APEX itself. The tournament was well-known for its abundance of problems, from both an organizing standpoint and behind the scenes. There had been many cases of difficult problems occuring in years past, from late running pools to fire hazards. However, despite all that, Smashers kept coming, maybe because it was the only place that gave them that true supermajor. That all changed in 2015.

Despite being another incredible tournament spectator-wise, among the greatest of all-time, APEX 2015 matched that with equally historic breakdowns beyond the curtain. The head of the team, Alex Strife, had his own issues finally catch up to him amid some sexually related criminal activity, but yet the tournament continued without him. No, the real kicker was when the original venue itself collapsed. If it weren’t for a freak towel on a fire alarm, many Smashers may have been in that venue as the snow that lay upon it caused it to be increasingly unsafe. In the end, Twitch practically bailed out the Smash community, as the biggest tournament of the year was able to continue the next day in a new, superior venue, albeit with one less day to work. There’s so much more to this story that could be delved into (and will be in the future), but…this tournament isn’t our story today.

Our story is what had to follow.

The following year, APEX returned, sporting a new time of year as to not overlap the returning GENESIS series, and was aiming to be another major, or at least a large regional. However, the tourney would mark a vast departure of talent from the once lofty franchise, and APEX would fade into obscurity, as this would be the last entry it ever saw.

The tournament continued to host a variety of different games, including Melee, Smash Wii U, Smash 64, Street Fighter V and Pokken Tournament. APEX always strived to move beyond its Smash-centered origins, though it never truly worked out. It was held in the same venue that saved the tourney last year, and thus had a remarkable amount of open space to house a plethora of players. In the end, though, the total attendance fell to less than a third of the previous iteration, capping at just over 500 attendees. 159 of those people entered Melee singles, and while there was a vast decrease, a handful of top players made their way to the convention center. Mew2King was the obvious favorite, being the far and away first seed, while The Moon, now known as La Luna, was the expected partner in Grand Finals. Other top contenders included the likes of DJ Nintendo, longtime veteran of the scene, and the New England Peach main Mafia, who was beginning to truly come into his own, recently getting 2nd at the NE Invitational with a double elimination of Slox. There was definitely a battle for 2nd to be had, but 1st was obvious. Time to see the bracket:

Round 1 of pools went off without a hitch, and, aside from an early exit from strong Delaware Fox main Snacks!, very few notable upsets. The only other interesting case would be TheSWOOPER, a fairly new Samus main who was just beginning to find himself, sent longtime Falcon main Dunk to loser’s early, before dropping to loser’s himself against Link main, 20XXTE and Doki Doki Literature Club creator Dan Salvato. Round 2 pools would be where the intriguing matchups began to get underway:

Jflex vs. Stango

Jflex was a strong Tristate Sheik main, who had been around for years formerly as JSex before a relatively recent tag change. He would perform possibly his best year yet in the game, eventually being ranked 95th in the world at the year’s end SSBMRank. This, however, would be a stumbling block for him, as he would lose to the fast rising Lawn Chair, now known by many as Stango. Before Stango was an easy pick for the Top 100, he was just an up and coming Marth main with a stupid tag. Just prior to this tournament, he had risen incredibly, going from #5 in Philadelphia to #1 in just a couple months. He would continue his quick rise to stardom with a stunning upset over the powerful Sheik player. This, however, would not be the end of his run.

G$ vs. Borp

Yes, the legendary techless god himself, Borp, graced us with his presence. He had won his pool with absolute ease, using his mastery of picking up on opponents’ habits and exploiting them through the bracket. This mini-Drephen attempted much the same against the old-school Falco/Marth known as G$, and kept it very close to the end. When the dust settled, however, it was the man who couldn’t edgeguard who felled the man who couldn’t wavedash.

Mafia vs. Stango

This win was certainly the big one for our Philly friend here. Mafia was certainly on the come up, being ranked 91st in the world by the end of 2015, and would later end this year as #50. He has several very impressive wins over this span, but of note would be his consistent dominance over La Luna. At every event they attended, Mafia would always seem to have the edge. This would continue for years to come, where even at Mafia’s lowest of lows, he would still find a way to beat even a La Luna who was on a hot streak. He seemed to be skilled at the Marth MU, but that wouldn’t help him today. Stango would use his rather unorthodox style, aggressively pushing against the Peach, and causing Mafia to break. He would swing his way to a powerful 3-1 victory, notching himself a Winner’s Semis appearance. This was almost certainly Stango’s breakout, and a great way to show himself off to the world.

G$ vs. PudgyPanda (9th)

PudgyPanda had been a slowly rising New Jersey Ice Climbers for about a year now, before finally bursting onto his local scene in the Spring, winning the NJ Arcadian and making his first appearance on their PR at 10th. This would almost certainly be his best win to date, especially at a non-local, as he defeated G$ in an extremely tight contest to get his first regional Top 8.

Minty vs. Jflex (9th)

Minty was a Samus main who had really been making a name for himself in the past several months, defeating Duck in the Samus ditto at the first Smash Con, as well as making Top 64 at GENESIS 3 and Top 8 at Super Nebulous 4. With wins over players like Medz, Slox, and Dizzkidboogie, Minty was one of the first names to truly put Long Island on the map. He would continue this here, with another stellar win over Jflex, 3-1, to move on to Top 8. And overall underwhelming performance for our Sheik friend.

Eventually, after a dominant win for Mafia over TheSWOOPER, and a soulcrushing stomping of Kaeon over Borp, the Top 8 was decided. It’s time to delve in.

Mafia would eventually defeat North Carolina turned Long Island Fox, Kaeon, 3-1, while Minty dispatched the up and coming PudgyPanda in a dominant 3-0, both for 7th place. In winner’s, Mew2King ended Stango’s Cinderella winner’s run in a decisive 3-0 victory.

La Luna vs. DJ Nintendo

On the other side of winner’s, however, was a more interesting matchup. The team usually known as Grab N Go faced off in Winner’s Semis, and the two were known to be frequent practice partners. While La Luna at this point was considered the better play, DJ would often give him trouble in bracket, consistently netting wins on him. In this tournament, however, La Luna won in a fairly commanding 3-1, sending his good friend to the loser’s bracket. He had a date with Mew2King in Winner’s Finals.

In a sad turn of events, Mafia would get his revenge on Stango in loser’s, mirroring Stango’s win with a 3-1 of his own. DJ Nintendo would also defeat Minty 3-1, leaving the expected Top 4 seeds where they were meant to be. Mew2King would also handily defeat La Luna, using both his Sheik and Marth to great effect.

Mafia vs. DJ Nintendo (4th)

In a rather peculiar battle, Mafia went toe-to-toe with the partner of a man he would go on to consistently defeat with DJ Nintendo. He would defeat DJ pretty convincingly in a 3-1, but what was interesting was DJ’s choice of characters. After losing the first two games with his typical main, Fox (including a really bad beatdown Game 2), DJ opted for a character he was recently working on with Pikachu. While back in the day Pikachu was known to be a counterpick against Peach thanks to early kills with up smash, notably by ChuDat, nowadays Peach was considered to strongly to win the matchup. DJ Nintendo, however, brought back the old school tactics well-known at the start of his career to shockingly take the game. He would then switch to his original main, Mario, for Game 4, another shocking choice, and one that would eventually cost him, ending his run at 4th.

La Luna vs. Mafia (3rd)

While in the future we would learn of the devastating counter Mafia was to La Luna, at this point it wasn’t quite as proven. Mafia had a garnered a couple wins over the top level Marth player, at the time ranked 28th in the world, but it wasn’t anything to be considered dominant, especially with how close the sets were. La Luna was likely still the favorite heading into this, considering the higher stakes of this bout in addition to his more prestigious standing. Despite this, however, Mafia won a hardfought four game set, with every one of those four going to the last stock. Mafia completed the upset, and sent La Luna home early at 3rd, kicking this winning streak into high gear.

Mafia would go on to lose to Mew2King in another horrific 3-0 display from the God, giving M2K his first APEX victory. This may come as a shock, with Mew2King having entered Melee, Brawl, Project M and Smash Wii U at every single previous APEX where they existed. He would often suffer early losses, such as Wobbles and OCEAN at APEX 2012 for Melee and Brawl, or fall just short to other amazing players at either 2nd or 3rd place. One notable example of this being this infamous APEX 2013 Brawl Grand Finals against Salem, capping off the most unlikely run in any Smash game ever. Finally, however, he had done it. While it wasn’t as prestigious as the ones before it, it was definitely something the king could check off his bucket list. It was good he did it this time too, as this would be the final entry in the APEX series.

APEX 2016 was a surprisingly well-run event, likely due to the smaller than anticipated size, but it did indeed give some hope that the brand could bring itself back through consistent solid outings. This, however, never came to be, and was likely for the best. APEX was a tarnished brand after all the turbulence of the past, and one halfway decent regional wasn’t going to change what it had become. The ones who worked on the series have moved on, and it’s past for us to do so as well. APEX is a tournament series to be reflected upon and understood, in order to never make the same mistakes it did again. The 2016 iteration was the post-mortem, something to look back on and see what can happen to such a beloved series if steered in the wrong direction.

Let us never have another APEX. Let us tread lightly away from the top…so we never fall back down.

The Man Who Spotdodges: The Career of Drephen

Welcome to the next article of the week from me! Remember, if you would like to support my new effort in three articles every single week, make sure to support my Patreon! There’s several tiers and benefits to supporting me, such as picking what articles I do next! Hope to see you there!


 

In Melee’s history, there are few players who truly stand the test of the time. Who have been there since the beginning and continue to crop up in major tournaments to this day. Even rarer are players who continue to play at a top level, as many slowly fade away as competition gets more and more stiff in future years. Textbook examples of that type of player would be Mew2King and ChuDat, well known bastions of longevity. However, among those legends of the game exists another. A Sheik main with a simplistic style that would seem out of place in 2006, let alone 2019. A player that it almost seems baffling to the casual eye made it to the top of our game in the first place, yet has stayed there for almost 15 years. That player is Drephen, one of the all-time greatest to ever touch a Gamecube controller, and a man who truly loves this game we all play.

 

 

 

 

Drephen made his major debut at MELEE-FC in 2004, then the largest tournament of all-time at 98 entrants. He didn’t even have his famous tag yet, opting to go by his real name, Drew Scoles. He ended up at 65th at the event, close to the absolute lowest placing possible, but only continued to climb from there. While he sparsely appeared at the larger tournaments that occured throughout 2004 and 2005, Drephen eventually made himself known at what many may still consider the most stacked Melee tournament of all-time, MELEE-FC3. There, Drephen, now fully engrossed in his identity, garnered 17th, tying in placing with top players from the region such as Vidjogamer and Ignatius, known sometimes as Iggy. He would follow this up with an impressive 5th place MLG Nashville 2005, only placing behind the best in MDVA and tying with the then best in the Midwest, Falcon icon Darkrain. He would then go on to place an extremely impressive 13th at MLG Los Angeles 2005. An often underrated event, MLG LA was the Western Conference Championships for the year, and featured pretty much every top player under the sun, including nearly every single member of the Top 25. Drephen accomplishing a Top 16 at the event was no small feat, outplacing players such as Midwest’s former best Eddie and current best Darkrain, as well as other top level talent during that time like Kei (AKA Takagi, who defeated Drephen at FC3), arguably the best in the Pacific Northwest, and Zulu, one of the best in the South.

Drephen would have underwhelming performances as the 2005 went on, but 2006 began with a bang as our wonderful Sheik main soared to his first big victory with Show Me Your Moves 5. Winning over top players at the time such as Eddie, CunningKitsune, and the fast-rising Tink, Drephen established himself as a member of what would later be known as the “Midwest Five”. Comprised of Drephen, Darkrain, Vidjogamer, Dope and Tink, these five players would define the region for the next several years. Drephen would continue his success with a solid 9th place finish at MELEE-FC6, another record breaking event, before finding himself in the famous 2006 MLG Circuit. After an initial stumble at MLG Chicago, Drephen would fire back with yet another 9th place in Orlando, defeating top MDVA player Wife and fellow Midwest player Tink, whom ended his run at MELEE-FC6, before losing to both Azen and Chillin. Drephen would eventually end the year after strong regional placings solidly within the Top 25 for the game, ranked as 18th in the world by the official Smash Panel Power Rankings at the end of the year (and 21st by Smash History for RetroSSBMRank!). However, despite how good a year this was for him, Drephen’s peak was yet to come.

 

 

 

2007 rolled around, and immediately gave off signs that Drephen was somebody to be feared. Drephen travelled to MDVA and successfully conquered it, winning C3 Smash Battle over the likes of Chillin, ChuDat and Azen, defeating the former and double eliminating the latter. This trend would only continue as Drephen earned his very first major Top 8, garnering 5th place at Pound 2. There, Drephen defeated up and coming players such as Darc and DaShizWiz, in addition top level talent such as Wife and especially Forward, the latter of which recently travelled to the Midwest and dominated it. He would follow this up with a win at EVO North and an insane 4th place finish at MELEE-FC Diamond, his highest major placing of all-time. Another impressive run to 5th at Zero Challenge 3, where Drephen stopped legendary players like The King and Bombsoldier, and things were looking up. This all came to a head with possibly Drephen’s greatest achievement. At Viva La Smashtaclysm, Drephen would earn the biggest win of his career, as he defeated the best in the world at the time, Mew2King, to ensure another 5th place performance. Mew2King and Drephen were known to often beef with each other on Smashboards, the primary form of communication for smashers back in the day. M2K would often accuse Drephen of having little to no skill, relying on cheap tactics and chaingrabbing to get the wins he earned in tournament. In a way, Drephen defeating Mew2King in tournament was karmic justice, punishment for doubting Drephen’s expertise at the game. Drephen would eventually end the year as a comfortable Top 10 player in the world, his highest ranking to date.

Screenshot 2019-07-10 at 8.39.38 AM

Upon mentioning the arguments with Mew2King, I feel this would be a good time to go over what makes Drephen so special, and why he is such an interesting player to watch, even to this day. Drephen, in a way, encapsulates what made the old-school crop of players so good at the game. Sure, they didn’t quite have the technical skill that many players nowadays possess, and could easily be overwhelmed by said skill if they played in today’s meta. However, in lieu of this, they possessed an uncanny ability to get inside the opposing player’s head, and understand what they were thinking. At the highest level of play back then, this was shown no better than by the mythical Azen, who used his ability to read opponents and understand their habits to make devastating, hard calls and end stocks when one would least expect it. Drephen is of the same general camp, encorporating his own style of getting into the opponent’s head. He will read your patterns and do the bare minimum to expose them, using relatively simple options to poke at you, as well as timing mixups to throw off your innate rhythm. This often annoys players, and causes them to lose focus and become even more predictable and open to attack, allowing Drephen to seize victory. This is obviously helped by Drephen’s character choice of Sheik, a main players often consider quite simple, with easy to execute combos as well as getting quite a bit off of grabbing, something that is also quite trivial to perform. Drephen would also utilize Sheik’s amazing defensive tools, such as her spotdodge, crouch cancel, or tech roll, all of which are some of the best in the game compared to other characters thanks to her other options that support these choices. Drephen gets into your head, and stays there, making you think he’s just lucky or using cheap tactics to get ahead. The reality is…he’s just that much smarter than you.

Drephen would follow his 2007 with an arguably underwhelming 9th place at Pound 3, before fading from the public after Brawl’s release. He would show up to roughly one large tournament a year in the years before EVO 2013, a time often called the “Dark Ages” of Melee, and perform decently but never score that groundbreaking win. He was even losing to other old-school Midwest players, such as Trail or CunningKitsune. It seemed as if Melee had finally passed him by…

 

 

 

 

 

That was, until 2014, where Drephen began to come alive again. A solid showing at Super SWEET, including a win over Duck, to earn 9th place, as well as a 33rd placing at The Big House 4 with wins over players like Darkatma and NMW showed that Drephen still had some gas left in the tank. Another Top 48 showing at a supermajor with APEX 2015 showed this was near fluke, as he defeated Tai and Gahtzu, in addition to his infamous chaingrabbing of Android, before losing in a nailbiter to MacD, who was quickly becoming a top end player himself. 2015 would continue at a similar pace for Drephen, just missing the Top 100 ranking by the end of the year. 2016, however, would be a different case.

Drephen started the year off strong with his first big win since his return, taking home gold at SWEET XXI over Prince Abu. As the Spring rolled around, Drephen would begin to tally up his first top level wins in many years, defeating HugS at OUTFOXX’D and Dizzkidboogie at Pound 2016. As the year drew on, Drephen would also slowly bolster his regional prowess, beginning to take sets o;ff of the best in the region at the time, like the nearly untouchable Kels, as well as consistently beat other strong Top 100 level talent like ESAM. Probably the most well-known part of Drephen’s late year run would be his extremely close set against easy Top 10 candidate SFAT at The Big House 6, proving Drephen could still contend with the highest echelon of play. By it’s end, Drephen would be ranked as the 75th best player in the world, his first national ranking since 2008.

 

 

2017 would prove no worse, as Drephen gained another win over HugS early in the year at Full Bloom 3, in addition to a multitude of wins on Duck, proving his expertise at the Samus matchup. He would continue to place consistently, most notably an impressive 3rd place in the Gods & Gatekeepers singles bracket, and earn a ranking of 68th in the world by the end. 2018, however, would be when Drephen truly began to return to form.

 

It would start with a modest 49th at GENESIS 5, where he defeated fellow Top 100 player Ralph, in addition to Top 60 ranked Arizona Fox main Medz. It would then continue with an astonishing 4th place at large regional tournament, The Gang Hosts a Melee Tournament. There, Drephen would defeat Top 50 level Fox mains in Slox and KJH, the latter having given Drephen trouble for years now. At Smashadelphia, Drephen would take both Wizzrobe, a Top 10 player, and lloD, a Top 30 ranked player, to the brink, in addition to double eliminating Junebug, Project M legend and a fastly rising Melee Sheik main. Consistent wins over Top 50 player Ginger also came, with Drephen going undefeated against the Falco all year. However, despite incredible success at the regional level, Drephen just couldn’t seem to put it together at the majors without a favorable bracket, suffering poor losses to players like Zuppy and Flamin Roy. Drephen would be 60th in the world by the end of the year, but it seemed his ceiling had finally been reached.

But then…he returned. When all seemed lost, the Drephen we all know and love came back to us as he spotdodged and grabbed his way to an absolutely shocking 9th place at supermajor Smash N Splash 5. This tournament was to award a spot at Smash Summit 8 to the highest placing non-invited player. There were many in talks of potentially earning the spot, but there is almost no way anybody expected Drephen to earn that right. While Drephen had been improving, it seemed highly unlikely that he could return to his days of old and outlast all the new, hungry and far superior players in today’s age. Drephen could easily even be written off after an early loss to Techboy, a young Ice Climbers main who more focuses on Project M than Melee. And yet, Drephen perservered. Defeating Rik, Morsecode762, TheSWOOPER, n0ne and Westballz, Drephen found his way to an astonishing 9th place at the event, his best supermajor placing since Pound 3, 11 years prior. He then went on to win the tiebreaker, defeating both KJH and Shroomed in thrilling contests to earn his place in one of Melee’s most prestigious events. His final stock against Shroomed is almost emblematic of what Drephen’s all about: devastating Sheik play, hard reads, and claiming victory where it didn’t seem to exist. Drephen had the Summit spot, and would go to the gathering of Melee’s elite.

Drephen did not perform well at Smash Summit 8, but that is not the point of this article. The point of this article is to show Drephen’s long, illustrious career. Through thick and thin, through all of Melee’s eras, Drephen has been there. Seemingly never changing, but yet always improving, his love of the game is forever, as is his impressive gameplay. Anybody can watch Drephen, and understand him, emulate him, and learn to love Melee just as much as he does. Drephen proves that you don’t need fast fingers to break into this game, to be truly great. All you need is love, and a gameplan. Drephen is a player who goes down in the history books as likely the greatest Midwest player of all-time, and showcases the very essence of what Melee’s about. He, like Melee, is forever.

Keep spotdodging, you crazy man. Keep spotdoding.